ICRS ESG Trends: 2023 and 2024 Webinar

ICRS ESG Trends: 2023 and 2024 Webinar

Greenwashing, biodiversity, COP28 – 2023 was a year for the books.

To reflect on the ESG developments and surprises of 2023 and cast an eye on what’s to come, ICRS Chair Jennie Galbraith hosted a conversation with Matt Mace of edie, Meggin Thwing Eastman of MSCI, and David Adair of PwC on what practitioners should prepare for in the year ahead.

What we saw in 2023

Business taking the lead – With the UK government backtracking on their climate commitments and grappling with the continued cost of living crisis, business stayed the course and continued to move forward with their environmental targets and push for change, as seen in groups like the We Mean Business Coalition.

Alignment – The alphabet soup of ESG reporting and disclosure frameworks saw some movement towards alignment in the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards, which will reflect TCFD and existing SASB standards, though the broad range of competing disclosures remains.

Greenwashing – Accusations and backlash against companies’ unsubstantiated environmental and social claims were launched by regulators and consumers alike, leading to a rise in greenhushing and a recognition of the increased reputational and financial risk of ‘getting it wrong.’

Innovation – Necessity is the mother of invention as the old saying goes, and 2023 saw the continued innovation of community and place-based approaches to social impact, looking to meet the growing need resulting from the pandemic, global conflicts and cost of living crisis.

What’s to come in 2024

Strategic Focus – Materiality, disclosures, and risks will focus the minds of practitioners and organisations on strategic activities that deliver their goals and leave behind those that don’t.

Soft Skills – Practitioners will keep developing their technical skills, but soft skills such as influencing, collaborating, and activating will be needed to work successfully with functions like Finance and Procurement.

Convergence – Reporting frameworks will continue to converge and align with one another, but divergence in national or sector-specific disclosures will endure.

Nature – Loss in confidence in the credibility of carbon offsets will shift companies towards other nature-based solutions such as localized rewilding projects and disclosure frameworks like TNFD.

For 2024, the challenge for all practitioners will be continuing to distil the complexity of our work into relatable simplicity.


Further Reading

- The Greenwashing Hydra

- MSCI Sustainability and Climate Trends to Watch 2024

- PwC Green Jobs Barometer